Lefty-hitting college star followed by 6-foot-7 slugger and lefty on Draft board
SEATTLE -- The Yankees went hunting for collegiate power bats with their first picks of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, dreaming of a future in which Notre Dame third baseman Eric Jagielo and Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge are swinging for the fences at Yankee Stadium. The selection of the 21-year-old Jagielo with the 26th overall pick in Thursday's Draft marked the first time in six years that the Yankees have used their first selection to reel in a college player, and the first time since 2001 that they used the first pick on a collegiate position player. "We think we had a great first day," said Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees' vice president of amateur scouting. "I'm excited and the staff is excited. We feel really good about what happened for us today."
A left-handed-hitting third baseman who was named the 2013 Big East Player of the Year, Jagielo boosted his stock considerably last summer when he belted 13 home runs in the Cape Cod League. Solid defensively at the hot corner, Jagielo has invited speculation that he may better project as a corner outfielder down the line.
Hailing from the suburbs of Chicago, Jagielo batted .388 and hit nine home runs in 198 at-bats during his junior year at Notre Dame. Jagielo led his league in both slugging percentage (.633) and on-base percentage (.500) and was named a semifinalist for the 2013 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award.
"Eric Jagielo is a physical left-handed hitter with plus power," Oppenheimer said. "He performed well in Cape Cod and shows a good combination of plate discipline and power."
Despite the Yankees' tendency to take their position players straight out of high school over the past decade, Jagielo thinks his college experience will benefit his transition into the Majors.
"It allowed me to just mature as a person and a player," Jagielo said. "I think that there's a lot of things I learned how to deal with, a lot of adversity I went through both on and off the field that will benefit me going through the system."
Notre Dame has given Jagielo a support system in the Bronx, too. Yankees pitcher David Phelps played for the Fighting Irish in college, and the two have already touched base since Thursday.
"He basically just said, 'Congratulations, welcome to the organization. If you have any questions or whatever, just feel free to get in contact with me.'" Jagielo said. "That was an awesome thing for him to do, especially him being a young guy and getting into more of a veteran role."
With former Yankees Willie Randolph and Andy Cannizaro on hand at MLB Network Studios in Secaucus, N.J., to announce the club's first-round selections, New York added to its Draft day bounty by selecting the hulking 6-foot-7, 255-pound Judge with the 32nd pick. And while you don't often see players of his size roaming the outfield, Judge has already seen a player similar to his stature find success in a Major League outfield.
"I've always enjoyed watching Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins," Judge said. "I try to model some of my things just as he does. He's also a big guy and he plays the outfield, so just kind of some of the things he does, I try to take that into my game."
Judge, 21, visited Yankee Stadium earlier on Thursday, along with several other Draft hopefuls, and said that he could not stop eyeing the inviting right-field porch.
"We were just talking about how short it was, so hopefully I'll get to play there and hit some out," Judge said.
Judge batted .369 (76-for-206) with 45 runs, 15 doubles, 12 home runs, 36 RBIs and 12 stolen bases with Fresno State this season, leading the team in each category.
"Aaron Judge is a big man, and obviously a great-bodied athlete who has a high upside," Oppenheimer said. "He can run, he has a good work ethic, he can throw and has the potential to be a five-tool guy with some size and strength."
Jagielo and Judge both played in the Cape Cod League last summer, and each was impressed by the way the other performed on the field.
"Aaron is just a big guy, and watching him in BP was impressive. Then you see him out in center field, and I was just like, 'What is this guy doing out there?'" Jagielo said. "But after watching him play, I realized he had a bunch of tools and that he was going to be a special player."
"[Eric] has a sweet left-handed swing, and he just goes about his business the right way," Judge said. "He's a hard-nosed guy, he plays the game right, and he's always hustling, always playing 100 percent. It was fun watching him."
With the 33rd and final selection of the first round, the Yankees selected left-hander Ian Clarkin from James Madison High School in San Diego, a projectable hurler who has dazzled scouts with his curveball and was 9-2 with a 0.95 ERA this year.
"Ian Clarkin has a combination of the things we were looking for," Oppenheimer said. "He is a left-handed pitcher with plus velocity and has a plus curveball. On top of that, he's a tireless worker. We think we got something special with him."
Clarkin made some unwanted noise after saying he "cannot stand" the Yankees in a pre-draft video, but he wants Yankees fans to know that he apologizes for what he said.
"It was more a joke toward my mom," he said. "It was taken out of context completely. I told my mom I would say that just to tease her a little bit. She grew up a complete diehard Yankees fan. I didn't mean anything by it, and I'm extremely excited to be a part of this wonderful organization."
Clarkin is committed to play at the University of San Diego next year, but he said he would make the decision of whether to honor that commitment or sign with the Yankees based on how "life-changing" the money is for him and his family.
"We are going to have to talk about it over as a family, see what works best for me, see what works best for the family," Clarkin said. "Hopefully, we'll get the scholarship in the contract also, but it is going to come down to how the money changes our family's lives."
The three first-round choices were the most for the Yankees since 2001. New York obtained the No. 32 pick from the Indians as compensation for the free-agency departure of outfielder Nick Swisher and acquired the No. 33 pick from the Nationals as compensation for losing reliever Rafael Soriano.
The Yankees completed their first day of the Draft in the second round with the selection of infielder Gosuke Katoh from Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) High School, taking him 66th overall. An 18-year-old left-handed hitter who is said to be a defensive whiz up the middle, Katoh has modeled his swing after Ichiro Suzuki. A 2013 Rawlings Second-Team All-American, Katoh hit .429 (45-for-105) with 13 doubles and 10 home runs and 32 RBIs in 35 games.
"We were excited to get this guy in the second round," said Oppenheimer. "On our scale, he's an excellent runner with great hand-eye coordination who can hit with some surprising power. He's a really good defender and someone that excites us."
Day 2 of the Draft continued with Rounds 3-10, and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. ET.